$50 worth of weed

The $50 Ounce

Walking into Diego Pellicer in Seattle is like entering the lobby of a high-end hotel: just past the perfectly manicured hedges and Victorian iron gates, shoppers are welcomed by crystal chandeliers, exquisite tile work, Roman-style columns and friendly staff.

Inside the cannabis shop’s back-lit glass and brushed-steel display cases is a curated selection of hand-crafted edibles, artisan flower, top-shelf concentrates and exceptional blown-glass accessories.

And full ounces of cannabis for $50.

Diego Pellicer, a shop made famous for its high-end look and classy atmosphere, is far from the cheapest place in town. But the bargain-priced Mylar bags of Chemdawg sitting across from the prestigious $336 Gold Leaf cannabis cigars provides an apt metaphor for what has happened in the Washington and Oregon retail markets: State-licensed marijuana retailers have been locked in a price war as oversupply and intense competition have essentially created a binary market in which cannabis is either top-shelf or budget. Consumers seemingly want either the best or the cheapest.

“We’ve gone into the middle shelf at some of our stores and just died,” says Patrick Wlaznak, the co-founder and president of Soulshine Cannabis, a “top-shelf” producer/processor in Washington. “Sales just stopped. It’s a real thing. We stay off the middle shelf for that reason.”

Phone calls to dozens of Seattle and Portland shops showed about one-third carry an ounce of bud at $50 or cheaper. In Seattle, the average price of budget cannabis was $82, with a range of $35 on the low end up to $140. In Portland, the average price of budget cannabis was $72, with a low of $35 and a high of $154.

While budget-conscious consumers enjoy the ultra-low prices, many in the industry worry the price at retail is not sustainable. Some fear the “race to the bottom” will reward bad business practices and lead to product diversion, black market sales and more businesses closing over the coming years. Others see it as the inevitable result of free-market competition that will force growers to become even more efficient. And with sub-$50 ounces at retail already commonplace, everybody wonders how low the prices can fall.

A $50 retail ounce purchased in Seattle. While it might not be considered the “best of the best,” even budget-priced cannabis is typically better quality than most people realize. Photo by Greg James.

Lower Prices, Higher Volume

In Oregon, Aaron Mitchell is on the front line of Oregon’s price wars.

“It has gotten so bad that we have $2 grams and we have $28 ounces for sale,” he says. “It’s not very good but people in Oregon don’t care. People want cheap prices. … It doesn’t hurt as much when you’re growing it. If you’re doing outdoor production, the cost is pretty low.”

Mitchell is the owner of La Mota, a vertically integrated chain of 10 retail stores and three farms in Oregon. Being vertical has certainly helped La Mota compete. Mitchell likes being able to offer consumers such a low price, but the profit margins on his budget flower leave something to be desired.

“You’re not making much money there,” he says. “You’re just scraping by. The money we make has stayed the same, but sales have increased.”

Mitchell says the “best of the best” typically runs about $125 an ounce.

Competition in Oregon has been driven by the state’s free-market approach to licensing, essentially allowing as many cultivators and retailers as zoning restrictions and the market would allow.

Herbal Access is in one of Washington’s most competitive counties with seven retailers for about 30,000 residents. Photo courtesy Herbal Access.

Meanwhile, retailers in Washington are facing a similar pricing dilemma without the aid of vertical integration. However, stricter licensing guidelines have created an uneven competitive landscape across the Evergreen State.

In coastal Jefferson County, seven cannabis stores, including Herbal Access in Port Townsend, compete to serve just over 30,000 residents. Because the county has the most cannabis retailers per capita in Washington, pricing must be competitive, says Peter Brian, a manager for Herbal Access.

“If you think about it, if everything is 10% cheaper, you’re going to have to sell 10% more product to make that same level (of revenue),” he says. “People want inexpensive product, but it’s the mid-grade stuff that is really hurting. It has to either be really, really good or really inexpensive.”

But Brian says it wasn’t demand from the consumer side that led to the price drop; it was oversupply on the production side.

In other parts of the state, local bans, moratoriums and population-based licensing restrictions have minimized retail competition.

At Green2Go, one of the top-selling cannabis shops in Washington, the cheapest ounce is roughly $90. Co-owner Steve Lee calls budget ounces “the decay of the entire industry.”

Located in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington, Green2Go is an island, isolated from competition, and a refuge for the limited number of producers Lee can stock.

Lee is vigilant about protecting his prices and vendors. He says his buying decisions have to reflect what is best for the industry, even when a grower is willing to offer extremely reduced wholesale prices. If he’s willing to buy marijuana at rock-bottom prices, “it undermines every other vendor I have a relationship with and have been working with for years and who probably budgets on my store’s bandwidth,” he says. “The industry has to have integrity in mind.”

Supply and Demand

Undoubtedly, the oversupply in both Washington and Oregon has driven wholesale costs down, keeping much of the industry trapped in the spiral.

“I don’t know why anybody is doing it,” Mitchell says. “I don’t know why people are trying to race to the bottom as far as we possibly can … $50 ounces aren’t even a good deal anymore.”

But for some outdoor producers, $50 is enough.

Over the past year, Okanogan Natural Farms chief operating officer Adam Osbourne has realigned the company’s Weed Bush Lovers brand for the $50 ounce at retail. During 2017, the company competed with myriad producers who were going out of business and selling hundreds of pounds at clearance prices. While Okanogan Natural Farms was trying to sell ounces wholesale for $25, some competitors were settling for roughly half that. After making some adjustments to increase efficiency, Okanogan Natural Farms was comfortably producing cannabis at roughly $2.15 an ounce (not including testing, processing and packaging expenses) and selling wholesale for $16.65 an ounce.

Many producers in Washington, like Chad TerWisscha, have split their focus to go after both the top and bottom shelves. TerWisscha owns two farms in Washington: Treedom, a fully automated, high-tech indoor operation with LED lights, and Koala, an outdoor farm with considerably lower overhead that TerWisscha describes as “a little bit wild.”

“You go to a lot of stores and the top shelf is only so big,” TerWisscha says. “There’s relationships built with certain retailers who just can’t take on another top-shelf vendor at the time. So instead of just walking away from that store, we have another option.”

New Frontier Data vice president and senior economist Beau Whitney says low costs and competitive pricing have benefits for the industry, just not immediate ones for the thousand-plus growers in Washington and Oregon. Low prices provide economic relief for the consumer and invite black market customers to join the legal industry, which over time, should dry up the illicit market, he says.

Okanogan Natural Farms in Eastern Washington has increased its efficiency to better serve budget-conscious consumers. Photo by Gary Delp.

Ripple Effect

The industry is also seeing a ripple effect as companies adapt to lower prices and attempt to remain profitable — or afloat, in some cases.

Osbourne says even with a low cost of production, he can’t afford the price to dip any lower. He’s hoping many of his competitors will opt for extraction rather than flower sales in 2019.

“If you don’t trim it and go straight to extraction, you can visualize how much you’re saving,” Osbourne says. “If you’re getting 25 cents a gram for full extraction, or you’re getting 70 cents a gram for trimmed and tested, all the overhead makes people go, ‘You know what, I’m going to sell it all for extraction and take the next six months off.’”

Diversion could be another hidden cost of budget-priced ounces. Faced with the prospect of going bankrupt or selling cannabis outside the legal market, some farms will inevitably take the illicit path.

There’s also a higher potential for customers buying cannabis legally, then selling it on the black market, typically in a state with strict marijuana laws and thus, higher prices. In 2018, Sweet Leaf in Colorado was stripped of 24 licenses and at least two former executives have been sentenced to jail time for allowing customers to purchase the maximum amount allowed at retail several times a day, a practice known as “looping.”

Lee believes it is now happening in Washington, just not in the excessive amounts that led police to crack down on Sweet Leaf.

“If you have a $40 ounce and you see Jimmy in there six days a week getting his $40 ounce, then Jimmy is selling to 13-year-olds,” Lee says. “The new diversion game is: buy low inside the system, sell high outside the system.”

When underage kids by pot nowadays, Lee believes some are just buying repackaged products from Washington’s name brand producers.

“Businesses can only bear so much weight for the value without breaking the system,” he adds. “When we start getting into these super-bargain basement prices, at what cost is the question.”

Publisher’s Note

I suspect that a lot of cannabis retailers are “leaving money on the table” when they don’t correctly evaluate the competition. In the world of big retail, stores like Costco, Best Buy and Safeway spend a lot of time figuring out their retail pricing based on how competitive the local market is. For example, if a Safeway location has a competing grocer across the street, they will price products much more aggressively in that location than one in a non-competitive market.

The same is true for most major retailers. Retail pricing is based on careful analysis of the market, customer demographics and competition. In cannabis retail, I often hear of dispensaries that have cheap ounces even if there isn’t a close local competitor. That’s a classic example of leaving money on the table. The big question for retailers is this: Is your market elastic or non-elastic?

The $50 Ounce Walking into Diego Pellicer in Seattle is like entering the lobby of a high-end hotel: just past the perfectly manicured hedges and Victorian iron gates, shoppers are welcomed by

How Much Weed Costs and How Much to Buy

So you’re going to get some weed. Hooray! But wait… how much should you get? How many joints would that be? How much will that jar or bag of buds cost? How much does the average person consume per day, anyway? All reasonable questions, which we’re here to help answer.

This guide will give you some reference points on how much weed to buy during your next Colorado weedcation, and it’ll give you a good idea of how much you’ll pay for your stash. No one wants to overpay for pot and then have so much extra they leave it behind. Be sure to have a plan for traveling with your stash safely!

Table of contents

Gram or 8th: Buying Weed Samples
How Expensive is a Quarter: Weed for Strain Variety
How Much is a Half Ounce: Price Breaks on Weed
How Much Does it Cost to Buy an Ounce of Weed?
THC Bang for Your Buck
High-CBD Hemp Flower: Weed Without the High
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Weed
Quick Weed Weight & Price Guide:
What is the price of weed?
How much is an ounce of weed?
How much does a gram cost?
How much does 3.5 grams of weed cost?
How much does 7 grams of weed cost?
How much does 14 grams of weed cost?

Gram or 8th: Buying Weed Samples

If you’re new to a strain, a gram or an eighth (3.5 grams, an 8 th of an ounce) would make a perfect test sample (Read our article on the normal weights to buy Cannabis). For reference, dispensary pre-rolls typically weigh in at a gram. Grams will cost anywhere from $5-15 and are the least efficient from a cost perspective, though they’re good for trying a strain before you commit to that full ounce.

If you’re looking to give a strain a couple tries and get a real feel for it over several sessions, we recommend an 8 th . It’s the most common weight purchased by most cannabis consumers due to its affordability and convenience.

The price of an eighth can vary greatly around the country, but they generally range from $25-$55 in Colorado and West Coast, to upwards of $60 on the East Coast. Most people will be happily buzzed on a budget of 1-2 grams per day. I’ve tested it, and you can even fit a full eighth of cannabis or raw organic hemp flower inside a safety case.

How Expensive is a Quarter: Weed for Strain Variety

A quarter is 1/4 of an ounce and weighs 7 grams. Quarters typically range from $50 to $80 in legal markets with premiums in prohibition states that can exceed $120 in some areas.

If you like having different strains on hand – like sativa in the morning and indica in the evening and maybe even some Raw Hemp Flower or CBD Kief (for varied effects) – this quantity is perfect for keeping a good sized stash on hand without going overboard. Minor price breaks can sometimes be seen at a quarter (depending on the specific dispensary or caregiver), but don’t expect them. Note that price breaks refer to price per gram as opposed to total cost.

How Much is a Half Ounce: Price Breaks on Weed

Weighing in at 14 grams, this quantity is where you’ll start to see more substantial price breaks. Half ounces generally cost between $90 and $160 in dispensaries. Once again, pricing is typically higher in areas where no legal market exists.

We recommend buying at this quantity if you’re a heavier smoker or have a high tolerance. It might be a good idea to keep some Raw Hemp Flower from a trusted source like Canna Comforts on hand to ‘extend’ the life of your cannabis. It’s much less expensive and runs around $30 for an eighth. It’s legal to buy Hemp Flower online and have mailed to you.

If the dispensary lets you mix and match the eighths of cannabis that comprise the half ounce (some do, but again, don’t expect it. Just ask your budtender), you’ll get a nice balance of affordability and strain variety.

How Much Does it Cost to Buy an Ounce of Weed?

Looking for the most for your money? Get ready to shell out for an ounce. This is the legal limit one person can purchase in many legal markets. Most dispensaries have ounce specials that range between $100 and $300. Almost any caregiver or dispensary is going to offer an ounce special in some capacity, and the price per gram is much lower than it would be in smaller quantities.

THC Bang for Your Buck

Additionally, some dispensaries will let you mix and match strains in eighth or quarter quantities that, when combined, weigh an ounce. This is the smart quantity to purchase if you’re a heavy consumer, and it’s also a great way to stock up the entire smoking circle.

High-CBD Hemp Flower: Weed Without the High

Even if you don’t live in a legal state, you can still reap the benefits of whole-plant, full-spectrum cannabinoids with raw organic hemp flower. We like Canna Comforts because they produce effective, enjoyable products that meet our CBD Buyer’s Guide criteria for safety, potency, and efficacy.

We especially enjoy the strains Lifter (shown below) and Special Sauce (add a sprinkle of Elektra kief for even more powerful symptom relief), but Canna Comforts‘ diverse collection of hemp flower strains ensures there’s an option for every need. Smoking hemp flower induces fast-acting relief from a broad range of symptoms in an enjoyable, natural, truly whole-plant form.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Weed

On the off chance you still have some unanswered questions about weed pricing, we’ve put together this handy FAQ section where you can quickly learn the answer. Keep in mind, that prices vary due to quality, availability, and many other factors.

Quick Weed Weight & Price Guide:

Weed Measurement Weight In Grams Price Range:
1 gram weed 1 gram $3 – $15+
1 eighth ounce weed 3.543 grams $25 – $55
1 quarter ounce weed 7.087 grams $50 – $80
1 half ounce weed 14.175 grams $90 – $160
1 ounce weed 28.345 grams $100 – $300

What is the price of weed?

The answer to this question varies based on how much you buy. Typically, the price per gram of weed decreases as you buy more quantity. Meaning a single gram of cannabis can range from $3-$15+ depending on whether you’re buying by the gram or by the ounce.

How much is an ounce of weed?

Also known as a zip, an ounce of cannabis typically costs between $100 and $300+.

How much does a gram cost?

A gram of weed costs between $5 and $15+.

How much does 3.5 grams of weed cost?

Also known as an eighth, 3.5g of cannabis costs between $25-$55 in Colorado and the West Coast, to upwards of $60 on the East Coast.

How much does 7 grams of weed cost?

Also known as a quarter, 7 grams of cannabis costs between $50 to $80 in legal markets with premiums in prohibition states that can exceed $120 in some areas.

How much does 14 grams of weed cost?

Also known as a half ounce, 14 grams of cannabis costs between $90 and $160 in legal dispensaries.

This guide will give you some reference points on how much weed to buy during your dispensary visit, as well as how much you'll pay for your stash.